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Holiday Contest At Local Horse Stables Displays Creativity On Poverty Hollow Road



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Take a drive down Poverty Hollow Road and you will see an expansive farm with white paddock fencing, classical horse barns, an indoor ring, and a jumping field. This is RedGate Farm, the home of three horse-related businesses. Each enterprise manages its own barn and shares the communal facilities at 50 Poverty Hollow Road. Even though the three barns are all independent businesses, they came together for a fun and friendly Holiday Decorating Contest that took place on Saturday, December 19, in the late afternoon.

Needless to say, this was an outdoor event and everyone stood at safe distances and wore masks. First Selectman Dan Rosenthal agreed to judge the final results. Members of each barn were invited to view the decorations, sip some hot chocolate, and socialize. All the buildings are finished in natural cedar shingles with hunter green trim, and provided a perfect backdrop for the decorations.

Rose Piro runs EQM Stables, where she has 12 to 15 horses at any one time. EQM Stables is a full-service boarding and European equine training facility. Rose specializes in two breeds: Andalusians and Friesians. Both these breeds are absolutely gorgeous. The Andalusian is a Spanish horse, usually gray but not always, with a long, thick mane and tail. Their athleticism and intelligence lend themselves well to jumping and equitation. Friesians are originally from the Netherlands and are almost always coal black with no white markings and have long, thick, wavy manes and tails. They are powerful yet nimble. Rose trains riders in all disciplines, including jumping and dressage. She also buys and sells these breeds. Rose is from Germany and has a master’s degree in equine studies.

EQM Stables went for a simple and elegant decorating theme, perhaps to match the elegance of her Andalusians and Friesians. Fresh greenery surrounded the doorway and was topped by a large wreath. Sparkly white lights and red bows highlighted the greenery. The loft door was open to reveal a grand Christmas tree, also bedecked with white lights. She adorned her prize Andalusian stallion, a gray named Estrollon, with a green blanket, red bows, and lights peeking out from under his mane. Santa Claus, who has quite a bit of experience with reindeer, happily agreed to lead Estrollon around to say hi to the attendees.

Sea Horse Stables is owned by Kristen Abbatiello and has been at the Poverty Hollow location for 12 years. Approximately 25 horses make their home at Sea Horse. The facility is a mix of client horses and horses for sale. It is a competitive show barn whose members regularly attend shows. Kristen provides training to the competitors and has a developing riders program for young people looking to enter the show circuit. Local veterinarian Dr Bonnie Ascher-Nette, who trains at Sea Horse, claimed a Reserve Champion title at the National Horse Show in Lexington, Ky., this year, riding her bay gelding, Denver.

Sea Horse Stables decided to honor their horses by hanging one stocking for each horse at the barn from the main lintel over the front doors. The doors themselves sported matching gold-painted English saddles and a large wreath. A nearby Christmas tree was decorated with show ribbons won by the competitors at Sea Horse Stables, another tribute to the hard-working horses. As the sun set, Santa appeared in the hay loft door and waved to the attendees. The horses inside swore they heard the hoofbeats of eight tiny reindeer. The stable also set out boxes to collect donations for local organizations including Toys for Tots, FAITH Food Pantry, Pitstop (animal rescue), and HORSE of Connecticut.

The third barn is One Above Farm, owned by Andrea Zaleski. This is a lesson-to-show-ring barn that provides boarding, lessons, summer camp, and the opportunity to be part of a competitive IEA (Interscholastic Equestrian Association) Team. She welcomes children of all ages. Andrea’s Summer Riding Academy is very popular, and each week it focuses on a different theme.

One Above Farm decorated their main doorway with swags of greenery from which ornaments had been fashioned from red bandanas and twine for a horse-friendly, relaxed look. A large wreath decorated with red berries and pine cones hung on the door next to a red painted “JOY” sign.

Dan Rosenthal and his wife, Meri, enjoyed all the decorations very much and appreciated the effort that went into the final results. Sea Horse Stables won the first prize based on their imaginative decorations and because they included a way to make donations to the needy. Everyone enjoyed the overall spirit of friendship and mutual love of horses.

Tracy Van Buskirk is a 35-year resident of Newtown and a board member of the Newtown Bridle Lands Association, www.nblact.com, a nonprofit volunteer organization formed in 1978 to foster an interest in horseback riding as well as preserve, protect, and maintain riding and hiking trails in the community. Horses have always been a part of her life. She owns a small bay quarter horse named Little Bear.

Dan Rosenthal, right, poses with Santa Claus and Estrollon, an Andalusian stallion owned by Rose Piro of EQM Stables. —Tracy Van Buskirk photos
The main entrance of Sea Horse Stables was enhanced with two old English saddles that were spray painted gold.
Sea Horse Stables even turned their logo into a reindeer.
Sea Horse Stables created a stocking for each horse at the barn.
One Above Farm created ornaments from red bandanas and twine.
Morgan Neff, 13, daughter of trainer Kristen Abbatiello, poses by Sea Horse Stables’ “Ribbon Tree.”
EQM Stables’ elegant display included greenery and a tree glowing from the hayloft.
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